Mark Milligan returns with his Saratoga column and hopes to continue his fine form with a sole selection on Thursday...
"Luis Saez is a positive jockey booking for Sicilian Grandma and I expect her to be more forwardly placed than she was on debut"
Saratoga 18:05: Sicilian Grandma 1pt win at 11/2
Wesley Ward is always a trainer to be respected in 2-y-o races and the obvious starting point in this juvenile maiden claimer is with his Girl Afraid, who's finished runner-up on both starts to date.
However, she's not run decent figures in either of those races and even managed to get beaten at lowly Belterra Park on her debut. I'm not prepared to take a short price about Belterra form transferring to Saratoga.
Todd Pletcher fields a first-time starter in the shape of Acqua Bella, and she obviously merits respect, though her workouts don't exactly jump off the page.
Consequently, I'm going to side with second-timer starter Sicilian Grandma, who ran better than her finishing position suggests when sixth at Ellis Park on debut last month.
That effort came over a sloppy track and she looked pretty green while getting plenty of kickback in a race that should serve to give her good experience for this outing.
Trainer Mike Maker is much better second time than he is with debutantes, and he's also made a fine start to the Saratoga meet with eight winners.
Luis Saez is a positive jockey booking for Sicilian Grandma, too, and I expect her to be more forwardly placed than she was on debut.
While not one for big stakes - there'll be stronger bets later this week - this daughter of Army Mule should give us a good run for our money.